As the end of August approached I had to start thinking about getting Nautilus back down south. I had planned to leave her up in the Whitsundays for the European winter but it turned out that I couldn't get anyone to insure her if I was going to be out of the country during Cyclone season. Ylva wasn't looking forward to the trip south as we’d be fighting against the trade winds the whole way so she jumped ship and made plans to travel by land for a month. I put some ads on the internet looking for crew and had many replies, eventually settling on Amanda from Sydney and Safae from Morocco. They joined me in Airlie Beach and after a few hours of showing them around and doing a big food shop we set off.
We had a nice 4 hour sail down to Lindeman Island and anchored in a nice little bay. Next we jumped in the dingy and went to the island. Lindeman Island was for years a very successful resort for the Club Med brand. About 3 years ago it was closed down and now sits deserted. Back in 1995/96 I worked here on two separate occasions while I was backpacking in Australia so it was very much a walk down memory lane as they say. I was still a teenager at the time and was very much in the “discovery” phase. It was all here on Lindeman that I first picked up a camera and started looking at the world through a viewfinder.
Due to us sailing the “wrong way” (helpfully pointed out to us by every second boat we met) it meant we didn't really have winds from anywhere but head on. So we did many hours of motorsailing, basically motoring all day but with the mainsail up to help out and give stability.
Safae, Amanda and I took turns steering and during the first week tried to get as many miles south as possible. We stayed 3 days at Middle Percy Island, a very special place. The days sort of blended into each other a bit during this time. We were lucky with the weather though, pretty much sunny all day every day.
After dragging lures all the way north and landing nothing I finally bought a couple of fish from the boat. Two different tuna varieties which were ok to eat but nothing when compared to Coral Trout!
We stayed a few days at 1770 again as I liked it very much on the way north. I went on a trip with a local operator 1770larctours.com.au where they show you some of the bush food and how the Aborigines used to live of the land and water. Very interesting!
As we got further south I started to think more about being able to sail Nautilus alone and it became very clear to me that the first thing that I’d need to get was an Autopilot. So in Bundaberg I purchased one online and spent 2 days taking Nautilus apart, running cables, installing boxes etc. I was fairly confident I’d got it all right but it was a big relief when we set off down the river and it worked perfectly! Wow, what a difference an Autopilot makes. Many other sailors had been telling us we were crazy to be hand-steering the distances we’d been doing. Now I realise how much easier it makes life aboard. I still think it was good experience to hand steer though, I learnt a lot about boat handling. Now though I can handle the boat alone and that opens up so many possibilities.
Its not often you get shots of your own boat while sailing as you’re always on it yourself. So it was a nice surprise when someone came up to us and said they’d shot some pictures of Nautilus from there own boat. This is the one I like most.
Here is Nautilus' home for the next 7 months, Newport Marina in Brisbane. We made it south with no major problems and I had 6 days time to get some maintenance jobs done, all the food stores cleared out and I also did a full service on the engine. One final clean and I was off to the airport for the long flight back to Zurich. The past 5 months have been amazing and I can hardly wait for the next adventures.